18:00 PM

Lowrie family donates $17 million to Ohio State Engineering

The Ohio State University today announced a commitment of $17 million from Ernestine and William G. Lowrie in support of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio State. The commitment is the largest made by an individual donor to engineering at the university, and the sixth-largest made by an individual donor to the university in the history of the institution.

The gift will endow construction and support of a new laboratory facility, create the H.C. "Slip" Slider Professorship for an untenured faculty member in chemical and biomolecular engineering, establish a new endowed chair, and provide an endowment to support initiatives in education and research.

"Bill Lowrie's support will create tremendous opportunities for generations of students," said Gregory N. Washington, interim dean of engineering. "He has served the College of Engineering in so many ways since he was a student here, and now he is making it possible to serve our students for years to come. We are so thankful for the Lowries and their generous support of our program."

"At this stage of my life, I find myself in a position where I can help and give back in a meaningful way," said Lowrie. "I wanted to move on it now, regardless of what is going on in the economy, so that I could see it happen and partially repay the university and the Department of Chemical Engineering for the huge impact they have had on my life and the lives of so many others."

In recognition of their gift, The Ohio State University Board of Trustees approved today the naming of the William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering to be housed in the new Koffolt Laboratories building, which is scheduled for completion in 2014. The building replaces an older Koffolt Laboratories, named in honor of the late, highly regarded former chemical engineering professor and chair, Joseph H. Koffolt.

"Ernie and Bill have long been among the university's firmest friends, and I am deeply grateful to them for their latest gift to advance teaching, learning, and research," said President E. Gordon Gee. "The Lowries' strategic support for our faculty and facilities is a powerful statement about the wisdom of investing in higher education and in the future of Ohio, our nation, and beyond."

Chemical and biomolecular engineers design, develop, and operate processes by which chemicals, petroleum products, food, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods can be produced economically and safely for use in products we use every day.

"We are at a point in time where we badly need to replace the chemical engineering facility. Even in this difficult time in the world we can't just put a stop to everything and hope it all goes away," said Lowrie. "The progress with the faculty size and stature over the last 25 to 30 years needs to continue, and we need to be able to attract the best. We are stuck by the lack of proper facilities and that detracts from our ability to recruit and retain faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students."

A native of Painesville, Ohio, Lowrie received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Ohio State in 1966. He spent his entire 33-year career with Amoco, working his way up through the company in positions of increasing responsibility, including president of Amoco Oil Company in 1990, president of Amoco Production Company in 1992, and president of Amoco from 1995 until 1998, when it merged with BP. He then served as deputy CEO of BP Amoco until 1999.

Along with administrative and managerial contributions to Amoco, Lowrie played a major role in increasing oil production and advancing oil drilling technology. In recognition of his distinguished industrial career, the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers awarded him the Charles F. Rand Gold Medal in 2001.

His many contributions to Ohio State have been recognized with the 1979 Texnikoi Outstanding Alumnus Award; a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the College of Engineering; and the Benjamin G. Lamme Meritorious Achievement Medal, the College of Engineering's highest honor. Lowrie is the only engineering alumnus to receive all three awards. In 2005, the university recognized his years of dedicated service as chair and volunteer to The Ohio State University Foundation with the Everett D. Reese Medal.

Lowrie has also received the 2008 Alumni Medalist award for career achievement, the highest honor accorded by The Ohio State University Alumni Association, given to those who have brought extraordinary credit to the university and significant benefit to humankind. He and Ernestine currently reside in Sheldon, South Carolina.

Ranked among the nation's top 20 engineering programs at public universities, The Ohio State University College of Engineering offers students a wide variety of majors, with 18 engineering and planning disciplines from which to choose. More than 40 research centers and laboratories provide students with access to state-of-the-art facilities for research and teaching, and our 18 student project teams offer hands-on engineering experience and teamwork opportunities.